This year’s National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers’ (NAPIM) 87th Annual Convention, held in Palm Beach Gardens, FL from April 22-25, provided attendees with lots of fun times and food for thought.
This year’s keynote speaker, Dr. Gerald Bell of the Kenan-Flagler Business School of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill presented thought-provoking talks on raising children and leadership. NAPIM’s State of the Industry Report also had some messages to think about. Finally, a panel discussion of top leaders from Europe and the U.S. discussed the nature of the ink industry, and their insights offered attendees much to consider.
More than 300 attendees gathered for the convention, and enjoyed the many recreational facilities and dinners. There was also plenty of business to conduct. NAPIM welcomed three new members – Squid Ink, Micro Inks and Joules Angstrom UV Printing Inks Corp., as well as eight new associate members – Dynamic Color, FlackTek, Hockmeyer Equipment Corp., IGT Reprotest, Kemira OY, Kerr McGee, Mendco and Omnova.
William Rimel III, president and CEO of American Inks & Coatings, is the new NAPIM president, succeeding Michael Murphy, senior vice president and general manager, ink operations at Sun Chemical, who completed his two-year term and implemented a new committee infrastructure that should benefit the industry. Jeff Koppelman, president of Gans Ink & Supply, is the new vice president. Leonard D. Frescoln, Flint Ink’s president and COO, is the new NAPIM treasurer.
The State of the Industry
The 2001 State of the Industry Report, delivered by Brad Bergey, corporate vice president, operations support for Sun Chemical and chair of NAPIM’s Management Information Committee, showed slight improvement over the previous year, with reported sales and profits increasing only slightly.
Ink sales increased 4.1 percent in 2000, and earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) went up marginally. Pre-tax return on net assets (RONA) was 12.2 percent, up from last year’s 10.1 percent mark. The fourth quarter results were not encouraging, however, leading to concerns for 2001.
“While 2000 was a stable year with only small growth, in view of the slowing economy, repeating this result may be challenging,” Mr. Bergey said.
Comparisons Between North America and U.S.
The other major event was the panel discussion, “Both Sides of the Atlantic: The Ink Industry,” in which the participants discussed the state of the printing ink industry in North America and Europe.
NAPIM assembled a top-notch panel consisting of Harvey Brice, Superior Printing Ink’s president; William Rimel III, American Inks & Coatings’ president and CEO and incoming NAPIM president; and George Sickinger, Color Resolutions International’s chairman, CEO and president, as the U.S. participants.
The European members were Herbert Forker, Siegwerk Druckfarben GmbH’s president and CEO; James Mahony, Flint Ink Europe’s president; Dr. Helmut Schmidt, managing director of Druckfarbenfabrik Gebr. Schmidt GmbH; and Juergen Steinmetz, president of BASF Drucksysteme GmbH.
The similarities in industry trends in North America and Europe became evident, as participants on both sides of the Atlantic reflected on declining margins, consolidation, overcapacity and the threat of commoditizing ink.
The panel also discussed the present economic state, which also has similarities. “Our big concern is the drastic decline in advertising budgets,” said Mr. Steinmetz,
“We are struggling with continuing consolidations on our customer base,” added Mr. Mahony.
“We have to get better profitability,” Dr. Schmidt said. “We have to work on our return on revenue. All of us have to stop the talk about commoditization, and we should understand the benefit for our customers. Unpaid service is absolutely impossible.”
Ultimately, it is clear that the ink industry is truly becoming more global as economic conditions in the U.S. play an important role in the European market. “I think that when the U.S. talks about a bad year, it’s bad for Europe,” concluded Mr. Forker.
Overall, attendees came away with the knowledge that the world is indeed experiencing more globalization, and that the international industry needs to work together to come up with new solutions to the challenges this presents.
A Successful Convention
NAPIM officials said that the convention was a tremendous success, with the panel being particularly beneficial to the attendees.
“I think it went very well,” said Bob Hess of Radiant Color, who served as program chair and moderator for the panel. “I think that everyone on the panel got involved, and we got a clearer picture of the similarities and the differences.”
“I was very pleased with the way that our entire convention rolled out,” said Mr. Murphy. “It exceeded all our expectations. The panel did an excellent job of being forthright and covered the important topics facing the industry today.”
“I felt it went very well,” said James Coleman, NAPIM’s executive director. “The panel went better than expected, which reflects the fact that our industry likes to know what other people are thinking.”
Now that his two-year term as president is completed, Mr. Murphy has turned over the gavel to Mr. Rimel. Mr. Coleman said that the efforts of Mr. Murphy and his wife, Sue, have been exceptional.
“Sue and Mike have been excellent to work with,” Mr. Coleman said. “From a business viewpoint, he’s focused on strategy and he’s just as interested in continuing NAPIM’s traditions.”
Considering all that was achieved at the meeting, perhaps this year’s convention offers new possibilities for starting traditions.